Episode 3

Image for Episode 3Not currently available on BBC iPlayer

Episode 3 of 6

Duration: 1 hour

The youngest and most talented member of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, John Millais, delights in having landed the influential John Ruskin as his new patron. His friends and fellow artists, Hunt and Rossetti, watch on in bitter envy as Millais begins his rise to fame and fortune.

However, before long Millais realises that Ruskin's patronage comes at a price. Ruskin insists on Millais painting his beautiful, young wife Effie who, it is plain to see, is far from happy. She confesses to Millais that after five years of marriage she is still a virgin. Ruskin cannot or will not lay a finger on her. Effie explains to Millais that he is just another in a long line of men that Ruskin has attempted to lay in her path in order to stop her raising the issue of sex. Horrified, Millais realises what is expected of him: in return for Ruskin's patronage, he is to sleep with his wife.

True to form, Rossetti immediately seizes on the benefits of his friend's predicament. Millais has a rich and influential patron married to a beautiful, young woman who he wants Millais to sleep with as and when he pleases. Where lies the problem in that?

Millais, however, is crestfallen at the idea of sleeping with another man's wife. What of the potential scandal? He resolves to walk away from Ruskin and to leave the whole situation behind altogether. But there is one significant problem with this plan - he is in love with Effie.

  • Writer: Peter Bowker discusses Episode 3

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    Discover how this episode was inspired by Millais' painting The Order of Release.

  • Cast Interview: Samuel Barnett plays John Millais

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    Samuel Barnett spills the beans on what it was like playing an artistic genius. He also lets slip what's in store for his character.

  • Cast Interview: Zoe Tapper plays Effie Ruskin

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    Zoe explains the full range of emotions she's been through in playing Effie; and of course the love triangle.

  • Send a Sonnet: Supreme Surrender by Dante Gabriel Rossetti

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    Share the third of six sonnets with someone special by clicking the 'Share' button above. Here Rossetti discusses his surrender to a new love, despite his reluctance to let go of an old one.


William 'Maniac' Hunt
Rafe Spall
Dante Gabriel Rossetti
Aidan Turner
John Millais
Samuel Barnett
Fred Walters
Sam Crane
John Ruskin
Tom Hollander
Effie Ruskin
Zoe Tapper
Lizzie Siddal
Amy Manson
Annie Miller
Jennie Jacques
Mr Stone
Phil Davis
Charlotte Siddal
Josie Farmiloe
Charles Dickens
Mark Heap
Mrs Ruskin
Georgie Glen
Paul Gay
Ben Evans
Executive Producer
Hilary Salmon
Executive Producer
Franny Moyle
Peter Bowker


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